Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

VanDusen Festival of Lights
Andrea Bellamy |

VanDusen Festival of Lights

With so many holiday events happening all across Vancouver in these final days before Christmas, it pays to be choosy when deciding which to attend. One event that never fails to deliver is the annual Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden.

Now in its 26th year, the Festival of Lights is a Vancouver holiday tradition. Running from December 10 – January 2 (except Christmas day), the event draws huge crowds every evening to witness the 1.4 million lights adorning the gardens.

I went this year with my friend and our two-year olds, and to say the kids were in awe is a bit of an understatement (in fact, my friend and I were pretty impressed, too!). Every tree, shrub, pathway, fence, gazebo, and shelter seemed to have been painted with light.



What a gardener really wants for Valentine’s Day
Andrea Bellamy |

potato on valentine...

Forget the drugstore chocolate in the velvet heart, or even dinner at a swanky restaurant. What I want right about now are seeds. (When I think “Valentine’s Day,” I think, “time to plant peas!” not “better buy a card!”)

Here are my picks for some vegetable seeds that would make great Valentine’s Day gifts. No tacky stuffed animals required.

Who says practical can’t be romantic? If your love is of the puppy variety, buy your sweetie some Sweetie tomatoes, Blushing Beauty peppers, Tenderheart Sui Choi, or Cupid grape Tomatoes.

Want a little more sugar in your bowl? Try Sugar Daddy peas, Sugar Buns corn, or Sweet Mama squash.

Is your love the tempestuous type? Drunken Woman lettuce, and Passion or Obsession corn are perfect choices.

And if your lover doesn’t mind a little dirt under his or her nails (or in the bedroom), you’ve got to pick up some Quickie corn, Mr. Big peas, Fat n’ Sassy peppers, and Sweet Meat squash.

Don’t even get me started on the flowers you could buy.

Photo by lovelypetal on Flickr.


Best gifts for gardeners 2009

Wait—how did it get to be December already? We just finished the Halloween candy.

Since there are obviously fewer minutes in an hour these days, I give thanks every time I click “add to cart” and check another name off my shopping list without setting foot in a mall. So here’s a little treat for you: a round-up of gifts any gardener would love. And they’re all available online.


The book vase by theshophouse has ferns and foliage tucked into its leaves ($44.00 on


These lovely botanical screenprinted napkins by Bloomsong add a touch of rustic luxury to your table ($17.00 for two, on

acorn necklace

This sweet sterling silver acorn necklace by GurKimel uses real acorns ($60.00 on


The Cobrahead weeder and cultivator is a fantastic all-purpose hand tool that is great for small spaces (it also comes in a long-handled version). ($19.95 on


The Grobal self-watering container lets you go a week between watering. At this price, pick up a few to give as hostess, teacher, or babysitter gifts ($14.30 on


Jane Joss turns fabric into fantastic foliage. I like this houndstooth fabric potted plant ($28.00 on

felco pruners

Felco classic pruners. There’s a reason these hand pruners have “classic” in their name. Felco is the name in secateurs, and you’ll never regret the investment in this quality product. This is another gift that will last a lifetime ($43.18 on

birdhouse stamp

This custom address birdhouse stamp by modernartstamps is a practical gift—yet one that is sure elicit smiles ($10.00 on Etsy).


Atlas gloves. Lightweight, breathable, and durable. What more could you need in an all-purpose glove? Great stocking stuffer. ($5.95 on


I’m scaaary…to aphids
Andrea Bellamy |

Lady Lila

Only a gardener would dress their child as a beneficial insect. Happy Halloween!


Pilfering my archives: Christmas gifts you can make now!
Andrea Bellamy |

It’s snowing like mad right now (a rare treat here on the Wet Coast), which has nudged me, grudgingly, into thinking about the holidays (I know, I’m a little late to the party). I’m thinking, specifically, about crafting and decorating, and about the different ideas I’ve covered here over the years.

Here’s a roundup of garden-related gifts you can DIY:

It’s not too late to make an evergreen wreath. This step-by-step guide shows you how.

I would still love to make this gourd birdhouse. If only the gourds were easier to come by. Next year I might have to grow my own.

Alice from NoussNouss gave me this idea. Seedballs as Christmas gifts! One afternoon cranking them out and you’d have all your gifts covered. Here’s the low down on how to make them.

Finally, Martha’s stone plant markers would also make fabulous stocking stuffers.

What are you making for the holidays?


Christmas cactus with different coloured blooms
Andrea Bellamy |

christmas cactus blooms.jpgSo, I have this rather sad, neglected Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) that has decided to bloom for me – in two different colours, no less! Just to be clear, this is the same plant producing blooms of different colours. Has anyone encountered this before? I’m not troubled by it – just curious as to why. Is this an example of reversion?


Looking for love? Plant a peach tree.
Andrea Bellamy |


Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the year of the Golden Boar (or Fire Pig, which just doesn’t sound as catchy). It’s supposed to be an extra lucky year.

Chinese New Year in Vancouver is huge. Because of our large Asian population, there are events and celebrations everywhere you go – even the Safeway had a dragon dance in progress when I stopped to pick up some groceries. The Year of the Pig is supposed to be a good time to have babies and make money. Unlike the Western perspective of pigs, the Pig is one of the most generous and honorable Sign of the Zodiac. (I’m a dragon. What are you? Find your Chinese astrological sign here.)

From a gardener’s perspective, I’m interested in the symbolic values attributed to plants by the Chinese. Some of the meanings are quite amusing to me (the maple tree, for instance). For example:

* Chrysanthemum flowers symbolize a strong life. It is good to give old people chrysanthemum flowers because it means strong life. However, only red ones would be good because white and light yellow ones are used only at funerals. Lovers do not give chrysanthemum to their loved ones.

* Narcissus, lotus flowers and orchid are flowers which represent high virtues and elegance.

* Orchid blossoms in spring and it brings an air of high class respectfulness.

* Narcissus blossoms in winter. White flowers of five pedals and yellow stamen grow in pure water. It represents a sense of purity.

* Lotus flowers grow in pond water. Its roots are edible. Its flowers blossom in summer and are either red or white. The seeds are also edible and are often used as medicine. Almost every part of a lotus plant is useful though it grows in muddy pond water. That is also why it is compared to people who manage to achieve success in life though they come from a less prestigious background.

* Azalea flowers represent elegance and wealth. You can find azaleas on the Chinese one cent coin.

* Peach flowers represent beautiful girls. In Chinese tradition at Chinese New Year, people who want to find love will usually buy a whole plant and put it home because this will bring them luck in finding love in the coming year.

* Pomegranates gives very beautiful flowers. Its fruit is sour but contains a lot of seeds inside. In Chinese tradition, people put this fruit on the beds of newlyweds so as to help the newlyweds to make many babies.

* Maple trees in China represents old people who don’t admit that they are old because these trees blossoms in autumn which is near the end of a year.

* Lilacs in China represents modesty, which is one of the virtues that Chinese people value.

Via Chinatown Connection. Photo stolen from the Delaware State flower page.


Merry merry
Andrea Bellamy |


“May your days be merry and bright…” Merry Christmas, everyone!


Happy Hannukah!
Andrea Bellamy |


Happy Hannukah to my fellow MOTs. Chag sameach!


Good-for-the-earth gifts

While I stand by some of my choices from last year’s list of Best Gifts for Gardeners (I love my Lee Valley Seed Keeper, and you’d still get major Heavy Petal bonus points if you got me the Nature Mill indoor composter, for example), this year I’m trying to give people less stuff. More experiences, fewer tchotchkes – you know.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking when Evergreen e-mailed me yesterday about their Lawn and Garden Smart Holiday promotion.

I’ve written about Evergreen before and think it’s just such a fabulous organization. So, if you’re buying for someone in the Greater Vancouver area, consider giving a gift certificate for an Evergreen Lawn and Garden Smart consultation. For only $75, a horticultural adviser will go to your lucky recipient’s home, assess their current yard care practices (covers waterwise gardening, composting, plant selection (focusing on native and drought resistant plants), natural lawn care, biological pest control and design tips). And that’s just the regular package.

As part of their holiday promotion clients will also receive a rain gauge, Evergreen gardening gloves, additional resources that compliment the consultation, and on-going support. So your giftees – and the earth – will be thanking you long after the holidays are over. And no need for re-gifting tacky knick-knacks.


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